Having loved my day at The Big Feastival - Jamie Oliver and Alex James' food and music festival - last year, I was super excited to be invited again for 2014.
Spread over two huge fields in the pretty Cotswolds countryside (let me tell you, I like the Cotswolds... So many beautiful villages), the Big Feastival is huge.
It consists of a funfair, main stage, little live music spots, tons of stalls, food trucks, pop-up bars, a petting zoo, cookery demonstration stage, kitchen for cooking lessons and more.
It's very well organised too.
Dad and I spent most of the day wandering round, chatting to stall holders and trying yummy foods. (I had deliberately chosen to wear a loose, floaty blouse.)
There are big-name brands like Vita Coco, Nairns Oatcakes and Green and Blacks, but also areas devoted to small producers. It's actually walking round the latter that I find most interesting, and I love discovering interesting new foodie bits and bobs. Some of the brands I recognised from last year, others were definitely new.
Let me give you a few examples of the yummy and interesting things we tried: Artisan breads and pastries, jams and chutneys, oils and vinegars, brownies and cupcakes, marshmallows and fudge, crisps and crackling, muesli and chia pudding, popcorn and seeds, cordials and cocktails, smoothies and spirits, ales and whisky. (Yeah, it turns out I'm not a whisky fan.)
Oh, let me show you some of what we nibbled so you can see just how awesome it all was...
And seriously, that's barely scratching the surface. The Feastival is a foodie freebie-lover's heaven. So basically heaven pour moi. While I was nibbling every brownie bite in the Feastival, dad was happily chomping on the cheese.
Speaking of brownies, after sampling some of these insanely good ones, I couldn't resist taking some home for Mama. Alright, and for me.
I also limbo-ed my way to winning a free packet of granola. Pretty chuffed with that.
According to my
ancient worldly-wise father, all
those little stalls wouldn't have existed 20 years ago, but nowadays such small
foodie enterprises, selling locally-sourced, organic, homemade produce, are
Would there even have been enough demand for a three-day food festival 20 years ago? We’re all foodies today, and food is trendy.
The Feastival is great for families – there are little private marquees for baby-changing and breast-feeding, as well as whole areas dedicated to kids where they can dance to Frozen, try special children's snacks, and pet farm animals.
That said, there’s also plenty going on for child-free adults. And by that I mean alcohol. And plenty of places to chill out with said alcohol. The fields are covered with people lounging in deck-chairs listening to live music, but there are also plenty of hay bales, benches and sofas dotted around.
There was a real mix of people actually – all ages, both genders, various nationalities, and although Samantha Cameron was spotted, there were more than just yummy mummies up from London.
AEG are this year's sponsors of the Feastival, who had kindly offered me a pair of tickets. They'd also reserved us a couple of spots in one of their cooking classes which was great.
Led by top chef Steve Brown, dad and I donned our aprons and stepped into the kitchen. I was head chef, naturally, and my glamorous assistant was most obliging.
It was a real treat not only to cook with top-of-the-range equipment (trying out AEG’s induction hobs), but also to have all the ingredients laid out waiting for us.
The dish on our session was chargrilled chicken with bulgar wheat, broad beans, summer beetroot and yoghurt dressing. We were guided through the process step-by-step, and it was a lot of fun.
I certainly learnt some new cooking techniques and really enjoyed using ingredients I wouldn’t normally choose. We may not have won the blender (dammit, it’ll have to stay on my birthday wishlist), but I thought our creation was pretty delish.
After devouring our culinary masterpiece, dad and I made our way to the AEG family kitchen where we enjoyed a lovely glass of Champers courtesy of the delightful AEG ladies. Thanks, guys!
The Big Feastival is just a really pleasant festival. It's clean, civilised and cute. All the little touches like the signs on heart-shaped slates and pretty tablecloths really do make a difference.
I'll be honest, I didn't really pay that much attention to the music (Jamie Cullum was on later but unfortunately we missed him), but having music on definitely helped give the Feastival more of a buzz, even just in the background.
And speaking of missing Jamies, we also missed Jamie Oliver himself in the cookery demonstration kitchen... Gutted! There were lots of top chefs on to watch though.
The atmosphere was fun, relaxed and summery, much helped by the fact that it was sunny most of the afternoon - it was the final day of August and perhaps summer's final hoorah.
All around us there was lots of colour, flags and bunting. Not only that but there were good signposts, plenty of bins and loos with nice soap and proper taps, and lots of friendly, helpful staff.
It's a great family day out, and really nice simply to go round, taste different things and talk to friendly people. Most stall-holders didn't try and sell forcefully which was nice.
Towards the end of the day, dad and I started looking around for something yummy to take home for dinner. While you're spoilt for choice when it comes for something to eat for a meal there, there wasn't loads we could actually take away. Understandably though, as that isn't really what the Feastival is all about.
We settled on paella.
And a gorgeous paella dinner it was. Not that we needed it after munching all day but what can ya do? A wonderful day of munching it was too.
Thanks to AEG for inviting me!
Have you been to The Big Feastival? Or would you like to?